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I’ve spoken at length about Ethernet and its fundamental cost advantages as a networking interconnect over years.  Tons of competition, standard products, broad hardware support, ubiquitous software and ecosystem plumbing, etc.  Ethernet has it all.  Additionally, the performance and capabilities continue to march forward as time goes by, either through 10x performance increases, or power management capabilities like Energy Efficient Ethernet.  Steady progress in performance, support, and cost continues unabated.


As 10 Gigabit has made its way into the forefront of Server interconnect world, many have been wondering when the support for mainstream copper interconnect would become available (Cat-5/6 cabling).  Until recently, Fiber 10G adapters were common, as well as more niche interconnect types like Twin-AX and CX-4 which are based on copper, but have no legacy support and only provide distances under 15m.


In the past few months several ecosystem developments and announcements have been made which cumulatively bring me to proclaim that 10G BASE-T (10 Gigabit over Cat 6a cabling) is here, and it’s here to stay.


In no particular order:

  1. Cisco recently announced 10GBT interface modules for their Catalyst 6500 series switches and Catalyst 4900M switches.

  2. Both Arista and Extreme networks have launched their 10G BASE-T switches.

  3. Panduit has introduced an innovative CAT-6a cable design that reduces cable size resulting in a smaller and more flexible cabling that supports 10G BASE-T transmissions.

  4. Intel has announced new dual-port 10G BASE-T adapter, the Intel® Ethernet Server Adapter X520-T2 at Cisco’s networking show in Barcelona. It’s a third generation 10G BASE-T product with two 10GBT ports for redundancy or link aggregation and is based on the Intel 82599 10 Gigabit Ethernet Controller, which means support for iSCSI acceleration, SR-IOV, and FCoE.

  5. Price points for 10G BASE-T adapters are now <$500 / port (the aforementioned Intel card is sub $400/port)

  6. There have also been some pretty cool and useful presentations and announcements that I’ve highlighted at the end of the blog.

  7. Finally, given the ramp in volumes of 10G BASE-T, it is my belief that in the coming round of servers in 2011, you will begin to see cost and power envelopes making 10G BASE-T LAN on Motherboard (LOM) solutions a reality.  This will further drive cost and power curves downward.


Combined, all of these developments in the 10GBASE-T ecosystem paint a compelling picture of the coming promise of 10G BASE-T in mainstream applications and make the transition to 10G look ready to kick it in to high gear.  The final piece for the transition is in place!



Ben Hacker


Additional Links:

Cisco, Panduit, Intel 3-way demo at Cisco Networkers – And demo brief

Intel® Ethernet Server Adapter X520-T2 -- Product Brief



I wrote a blog last month that talked about the huge impact on power consumption if the 1 million servers whose refresh was delayed in 2009 were replaced with Xeon® 5500 servers in March 2009 (source: Gartner research).


With Earth Day 2010 upon us, the recently-launched Xeon® 5600 processors are doing their part in driving a reduced IT carbon footprint and a greener planet with up to a 15:1 consolidation ratio over single-core servers.


So, if on March 16, 2010, Xeon® 5600 processors replaced those 1 million servers that weren’t retired in 2009, and assuming they replaced single-core servers purchased back in 2005, then over the next 12 months the industry could:


  • Save a total of 6.3 BILLION kWh of electricity or
  • Save~1/3 the power production of the Hoover Dam or
  • Save the annual power consumption of 250,000 US homes and/or
  • Reduce CO2 production by a total of 6.6 billion lbs by the end of 2010, or the equivalent of removing almost 500,000 cars from the road

Check out how much greener your environment can be with Xeon® 5600 servers by using the updated Xeon® ROI Estimator tool.


Sources:  All calculations using default values for the Xeon® ROI Tool (, highest SPECint_rate_2006 numbers published on, and server utilization rate (averaged of 24hrs) of 33%.  Conversion of CO2 to number of car values @, assuming 21mpg vehicle/12k miles per year.  Estimated domestic power consumption @ Hoover Dam power rating @ .

By how much a drop-in CPU upgrade can boost your server app performance? By 1.2x,… 1.4x? Please find below a report how even astonishing 1.64x can be possible.


Recently, Intel has launched the Xeon® Processor 5600 Series (formerly known as “Westmere”). The new CPU is an upgrade for the 5500 Series with two remarkable improvements:


• 50% more cores in a single CPU: six instead of four
• Higher frequency: 3.33 GHz instead of 2.93 GHz


These and many other enhancements (like larger last level cache and fast encryption/decryption instructions) boosted many well known benchmarks.


There is an exceptional result I am especially proud of: Intel® Xeon® Processor 5600 Series provided up to 1.64x performance gain for the SAP BusinessObjects* Explorer, accelerated version (including SAP NetWeaver BW Accelerator). This software combines intuitive information search and exploration functionality with the high performance and scalability of in-memory analytics. If you want to feel this intuitiveness and breathtaking speed even on tremendous data volumes, please visit, it takes only a minute to register.


SAP and Intel have collaborated for years to deliver SAP NetWeaver BW Accelerator (backend for the accelerated version of SAP BusinessObjects* Explorer) as an extraordinary business intelligence appliance, optimizing and tuning it to utilize the advantages of Intel architecture. As a result, our customers will benefit from almost perfect scaling with the new CPU upgrade. Theoretically, the improvement one could hope for is about (6/4)x(3.33/2.93)=1.70x (through the increased core count and increased frequency). That means an amazing scaling efficiency of 96% is achieved!


For more details please see the attached solution brief “SAP BusinessObjects* Explorer, Accelerated Version, and SAP NetWeaver* Business Warehouse Accelerator on the Intel ® Xeon® Processor 5600 Series”. If you have questions, let me know (send me a private message or post a comment here), I will be happy to answer.


Enjoy your new Intel® Xeon® Processor 5600 Series!

Powerful processing on the new Dell PowerEdge servers utilizing the Intel Xeon 7500 microprocessors.  We were lucky enough to have some of this machines come through our lab.  We captured some video overviews of the Dell PowerEdge R910, R810, and M910.  We were also lucky enough to have engineers from Dell's thermal and acoustic lab go into details on the R910.


See the videos on our blog.


If you have any technical questions (don't ask me about price, it's all free to me ) hit me up over on the Dell Enterprise TechCenter or via Twitter @DellServerGeek.


HP is holding a global virtual event on April 27, 2010 that will introduce HP's vision and major announcements regarding their products and solutions for what HP is describing as the "next era of mission-critical computing".  The event will feature an overview session, some cool technology demos, and will include the presention of thought-provoking white papers.  Event participants will have the opportunity to share reactions to the announcement and ask questions through live expert chat sessions.

HP plans to share their perspective and some information about:

  • How to scale service-level agreements dynamically to meet business needs
  • Ways businesses and IT managers can capture untapped resources and react faster to new opportunities
  • Important methodologies and strategies to help reduce complexity in the IT environment
  • HP's recommendations about how to best lay the foundation for a converged infrastructure to accelerate business outcomes

As a partner to HP, I plan to join in; it should be a worthwhile event!

Registration is available at:

You can also follow updates from the event on twitter at #HPIntegrity

I recently read a couple of articles:  March was a multicore watershed month and HPC Madness:  March is More Cores Month.  Rightly so, first article mentions that users have “a lot more choice on how they want to balance FLOPs with memory capacity, memory bandwidth, and I/O in different product niches.”

Additional factors that a HPC customer should factor into their choice, as cpu cores escalate, is to not lose sight per core performance and licensing costs.   Particularly, in HPC verticals, like Energy and CAE, where users might still be licensing software on a per core or per instance, rather than per socket, or per node,  getting the best return on performance on the utilized cores and the lowest possible software cost is essential.  It should be an essential consideration because, often, software and software maintenance costs might outweigh acquisition hardware costs.

When you consider the two above factors, performance per core and licensing costs, there is a clear advantage to considering the latest generation of Intel(R) Xeon(R) Processors among your HPC choices.   Intel per core performance advantages start under the hood at the micro architecture level:  delivering more instructions per clock, better branch prediction, delivering processor innovations such as Intel® HT technology and Intel® Turbo Boost technology, and by delivering higher clock frequencies.   It means that, if the processor is delivering higher per core performance, then you’ll spend less software costs to accomplish your task when your software costs are related to cores.  For those cases where software licensing is not an issue, better performance per core could translate into needing fewer servers to achieve a job and lowering total costs.

I encourage you to compare the per-core job performance to the per-core license cost to determine the best performance-to-cost operating point when making your wise HPC buying decision.   I think you’ll find the old adage “working smarter, not harder" is often true.

I've had an opportunity to attend a few launch events for the Intel Xeon Processor 7500 Series products and wanted to share a little of my perspective.  I also took a few pictures along the way that you might appreciate.



First up was the San Francisco, March 30th main event.  Kirk Skaugen is the keynote speaker, with a rather innovative stage that made it appear as though the images and charts floated in 3D:



We had numerous vendors in the room showing their products and available to talk with customers, press, and analysts.  That last part was the most impressive for me.  Having Dell, IBM, HP, NEC, SGI, Fujitsu, Hitachi, Unisys, Cray, Oracle, Supermicro and a few others in the room to show off systems was amazing.  I talked with representatives from most of these companies and all were excited to be showing off not only their systems, but to talk about how well these systems performed.  Many of them had excellent innovations in their specific designs, which made it clear that there are a lot of options for all levels of computing need.


Here are several of the big iron systems and racks on display in San Francisco:


IMG_2263.JPG IMG_2262.JPG IMG_2254.JPG

A little side note... the venue for the SF event was at the Bentley Reserve, a former California Federal Reserve Bank.  They allowed us to go check out the safe downstairs, and here is a peak at Kirk listening in on the description as we look through the several feet thick doorway:



Next up is New York launch event at The Roosevelt Hotel on April 6th.  This event had a different feel to it.  Several software companies (Microsoft, VMWare, Red Hat, Novell/SuSE and others) as well as a few server vendors were there (IBM, HP, Dell, Cisco, Fujitsu, NEC and others).


The presentations were not quite as 'animated', but they were certainly compelling.  In particular, a guest speaker (Juan Enriquez - a Harvard Fellow) was talking about medical research and how we are breaking through with computing now, but the next great technological 'wave' is in the genetic code and we need to stay afloat and not let the Financial Crisis of late, deter us from moving forward.


Here's a vew of the presentation room and the mass of people ready to listen in on the presentations:



Next up is the event in Ottawa, Canada on April 8th held at the Fairmont Chateau Laurier.



I've found that a good portion of the value derived from these events, is in the networking activity.  People contacting with people in the same business, supporting businesses, or simply getting to know what each other are doing.  Here are some pictures of various conversations going on in the room.

Group_Chatting.JPG Dell_Chatting.JPG Chatting1.JPG


Here is Shannon Poulin (Xeon Marketing - our keynote speaker) chatting with a few people.


I took some video from this event in Ottawa and will edit that up and post shortly.  That will give you an idea of the presentations and the content being discussed.


I hope you enjoyed this behind the scenes peak at Intel Xeon launch events.  There are many people involved in bringing these events to life, and this view is only just a glimpse at the result.


Thanks for joining us and enjoy your new Intel Xeon processors.  They are awesome.



20 and counting

Posted by fjjensen Apr 6, 2010

The industry has been abuzz with the launch of the Intel Xeon processor 7500 series (formerly codenamed Nehalem-EX) and the scalable performance is one of the key reasons why. The Intel Xeon processor 7500 series represents the largest performance leap in Xeon family history, with the chip being an average three times faster across a range of benchmarks, setting over 20 new world records including stellar results from Cisco*, Dell*, Fujitsu*, IBM*, NEC*, and SGI*.

Some noteables:

  • 64-socket SGI Altix* UV 1000 posted the #1 world record SPECint*_rate_base2006 base score result of 10,400 and #1 x86 record for SPECfp*_rate_base2006 result of 6,840.
  • 8-socket Fujitsu PRIMEQUEST* 1800E published several leading results including the best 8-socket SPECjbb*2005 and SAP* Sales and Distribution (SD) two-tier Standard Application Benchmark that's 3.6x faster than the 8-socket 7400 series (formerly codenamed Dunnington) best published, plus several more best-in-class benchmark results at the day of launch.
  • 8-socket NEC Express*5800 holds the #1 spot for TPC Benchmark* E besting the previous top record 8-socket 7400 series result by 2.7x.
  • 4-socket IBM System x* 3850 X5 had many records including top VMmark* overall score (3.5x better than 7400 series), best 4-socket TPC Benchmark* E (2.8x gain over 7400 series), SAP* SD two-tier top Windows* 4-socket result (3.4x versus the best Windows Server* -based 7400 series server), SPECjEnterprise*2010 single-node record (new benchmark but 1.9x faster than the recently launched 5600 series), and several others.
  • 4-socket Dell PowerEdge* R910 claimed the world record for single-node SPECjAppServer*2004 (2.5x faster than 7400 series).
  • Even in the new 2-socket arena, our partners with their new expandable servers had a strong showing with Dell PowerEdge* R810 topping the 2-socket record for SPECjbb*2005 and IBM claimed top 2-socket x86 SPECint*_rate_base2006.



The great scalable performance goes hand-in-hand with the advanced reliability features (aka RAS) for those who want the best performance but also the high availability needed for mission critical applications.  Also, flexible virtualization for reliable consolidation is possible more than ever with the new 7500 series as evidenced by the top VMmark* score.


So, is performance important to your company?


For detailed performance results and more information about all the world record claims see


Calling all IT Pros!

Posted by raechelintc Apr 6, 2010

Think you are good at problem-solving?


New online game sponsored by IBM System x. Put your thinking cap on and see if you can answer these questions related to IT


Have fun!

~ Raechel

Are the servers in your data center ready for Xeon 7500 and Xeon 5600?  The Oracle Solaris OS is ready!


Read the following technical whitepaper on how the Oracle Solaris and the Intel® Xeon® processor 5600 and 7500 series can improve your application solution environment. It includes brief technical descriptions of specific features and capabilities that can be implemented in Oracle Solaris to optimize the specific functionality of the altest generation Intel Xeon processors in the areas of scalable performance, advanced reliability, security, power efficiency, and cost-effective virtualization.


An appendix provides additional technical information on optimizing Oracle Solaris for the Intel Xeon processor 5600 and 7500 series.


Download & read today...

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